The sweet, mournful sound of Mandolin Orange—of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz’s tender harmonies and strings—is uplifting to roots music lovers despite some gloomy lyrical themes. The duo’s third album, This Side of Jordan, was made with engineer/upright bass player Jeff Crawford in Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium Recordings (Kernersville, N.C.; fidelitorium.com). Easter’s control room is built around a rather unknown console, a 1978 ABE Apparatebau u. Elektronik Becker GmbH.
“Mitch’s place is so big, we can spread out,” Crawford says. “We might use a couple of isolation booths, but we can record live with bass, guitar and violin feeding off of each other.” He captured Marlin’s vocal with an AKG 414 mic, with Frantz singing into a Chameleon TS-2. “I had them through either a Distressor or an LA-2A, depending on the song, via the console into Pro Tools,” he explains.
Frantz often plays violin and sings on live sessions, but Crawford says, “Mostly at any given time she either sings or plays. If she plays heavily on a take, we’ll have to overdub the vocal, but usually they’re not playing and singing at the same time, so it was easy to push the Coles  I had on violin or the Chameleon.”
Crawford used the same vocal and string mics during overdubs in his facility, Arbor Ridge Studios. “Emily’s voice has a warm midrange quality to it, so the Chameleon made sense for her, but I liked that the 414 made Andrew sound a little crisper and took out a bit of the lows that some bigger-diaphragm mics would have.”